A Cairo criminal court on Thursday sentenced Egyptian businessman Hassan Rateb and a former member of parliament, Alaa Hassanin to five to 10 years in prison on charges of smuggling antiquities out of the country.
Ahramonline news agency reported that the court announced five years prison term to Rateb and 17 other defendants who were found guilty of smuggling antiquities. All of them were also fined 1 million Egyptian pounds or $54,000.
Hassanein and 4 others were convicted to 10 years in prison each. The defendants were accused of illegally obtaining antiquities and trafficking them abroad.
Rateb, 74, was arrested on 28 June, four days after Hassanin and others were caught with dozens of artifacts in their possession.
Egypt has drastically stepped up efforts in recent years to stop the trafficking of its antiquities.
Illegal archaeological digging, antiquities trafficking, and smuggling offenses carry penalties varying from seven years to life imprisonment under Egyptian law.
Egypt is still rich in undiscovered ancient sites dating back to the time of the Pharaohs, and its Greek and Roman era.
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